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Protecting Your Legacy

San Antonio Probate Blog

Protecting assets is an important part of probate

Often, after the death of a loved one, the last thing anyone wants to do is jump right into handling the person's final affairs. However, starting probate sooner rather than later is a smart move, and though it can be difficult, Texas executors may benefit from getting the process underway. Of course, they can also benefit from avoiding mistakes as they work to complete the process.

One mistake that could cause significant problems is if the executor does not keep all of the assets safe. It may seem like a hefty order, but it could simply mean changing the locks on the decedent's home and saying no if anyone asks to take an item. Some parties may even go so far as to hire a security firm to monitor the property. If an item goes missing before the property distribution portion of probate, complications could ensue.

Who is in charge of handling probate for a parent?

Throughout their lives, most people have parents to handle certain matters for them. Of course, as children become adults and parents age, the children often have to step in to handle certain matters for their parents. When a Texas parent passes away, an adult child may be the one in charge of handling probate matters.

When it comes to determining who is in charge, the information can hopefully be found in the parent's will. Better yet, the parent will have discussed the appointment of his or her executor with the intended person before his or her passing. This discussion could allow the person to accept the role and prepare for it. Additionally, the person may already know where the estate planning documents are and how to access them.

Dealing with creditors during the probate process

One of the tasks the executor of an estate must address is the outstanding debts of the deceased. Failing to do so could mean that the executor incurs personal liability for the debts.

If you serve as the executor of the estate of a loved one, you will need to deal with his or her creditors as part of the probate process. You should know up front that addressing debts is not as cut and dried as you might think.

Co-executor's actions lead to probate litigation

Many people expect to obtain a portion of a person's estate after his or her passing if they were close to the decedent. In particular, surviving spouses often feel it is obvious for them to obtain important assets. However, some spouses may find themselves having to fight for their rightful assets through probate litigation due to unseemly actions of other people.

Texas readers may be interested in such an ordeal currently underway in another state. According to reports, a wealthy businessman who died in 2015 had named his ex-girlfriend as a co-executor to his estate. The two had been in a relationship approximately 50 years ago, and she came back into his life in more recent years before his passing. The man's widow claims that the ex-girlfriend inserted herself into the man's personal life and his business life and pressured the man to make a new will and remove the man's brother as co-executor.

Probate litigation taking place over estate size, other details

When siblings do not get along, the lives of Texas parents and those elsewhere can be made miserable. Even after their parents' deaths, adult children can continue to squabble and disagree over the estate. In some cases, the disagreements could reach a point at which resolutions may only be found through probate litigation.

Disputes between siblings have recently led to such action in another state. Apparently, one of five surviving children of a businessman has indicated that his father's estate is essentially bankrupt with over $110 million in debt. He and one of his sisters had apparently planned to conduct an estate sale in efforts to obtain some proceeds, but another sister took issue with their actions.

Probate litigation likely as Pat Bowlen's daughters file suit

Surviving family members are not always satisfied with the manner in which a loved one's remaining estate is divided after his or her death. In some cases, individuals feel the need to utilize probate litigation because they feel strongly that the details of any estate plans do not coincide with the loved one's true intentions. However, taking such action could put inheritances at risk.

Texas residents may be interested in a dispute involving the surviving family of Pat Bowlen, the former majority owner of the Broncos. Before his passing, Bowlen had created a trust that now has the responsibility of appointing the next controlling owner of the football team. Despite a no-contest clause in the trust, which could result in heirs being disinherited if they choose to move forward with a contest, two of Bowlen's daughters have filed a suit challenging the validity of the trust.

Asset distribution one of the last steps of the probate process

Though many people may think they should receive their inheritances quickly after a loved one's death, distribution to heirs and beneficiaries is not the top priority. In fact, when it comes to completing the probate process for a remaining estate, distribution to beneficiaries is the last step. Some Texas residents may think this is unfair, but there are reasons for the order in which settling estate occurs.

The executor of the estate has the obligation of handling any remaining financial affairs that the decedent left behind. These obligations include paying remaining taxes and outstanding bills. Because taxes and certain creditors take the highest priority, the executor must handle this step before distributing assets to ensure that there are enough estate funds to cover the remaining balances. An early distribution could cause complications and leave the executor personally responsible for paying any remaining balances.

Are you ready to start the probate process as the executor?

After a loved one passes away, someone is usually in charge of handling that person's remaining obligations. Commonly called the executor of the estate, this person has numerous legal responsibilities when it comes to settling final affairs. Because of the importance of this job, executors have a lot to focus on.

If you are in line to act as the executor of your loved one's remaining estate, you may understandably feel a bit anxious. Hopefully, you and your loved one discussed the role, and you were able to obtain answers to any questions you had and gain important information from him or her well ahead of time. Still, you may worry about starting the process off right.

How do Texas inheritance laws affect estate administration?

Estate planning can be complicated, and issues could arise after a person's death if he or she did not create a will or if the document is declared invalid for a specific reason. In such cases, estate administration can become precarious because Texas intestate laws will take over when it comes to distributing assets. As a result, surviving loved ones may worry about what will happen to their loved one's assets.

If the decedent was married at the time of his or her passing, state inheritance laws regarding community property indicate that any property acquired during the marriage is jointly owned by the spouses. This means that if the couple did not have children or if all of the children belonged to the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse would inherit or maintain ownership of any marital property. Of course, not all assets fall into the category of community property.

Probate litigation could result from executor delays

The loss of a loved one can often leave lasting impacts. Though many Texas residents may want to ensure that their loved one's final affairs are properly handled and that any remaining tasks can be finished as soon as possible, that is not always what happens. In some instances, executors may not handle their duties properly, and probate litigation could result.

It is possible for children of a deceased individual to face such difficulties. In one example, the daughter of a deceased woman has concerns because she and her sister are supposed to receive equal shares of the remaining estate. However, probate has been underway for over a year, and the executor has not taken steps to sell the decedent's home.

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC
8700 Crownhill Blvd.
Suite 200
San Antonio, TX 78209

Phone: 210-418-1150
Fax: 210-598-7221

8700 Crownhill Blvd. | Suite 200 | San Antonio, TX 78209
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